For British television viewers, Billy Murray is a very familiar face. For over four decades he has been a prominent figure in popular drama, most notably as long-serving characters in the likes of ‘The Bill’ and ‘Eastenders’. But what TV viewers may not know, is that Murray is fast becoming an integral part of the British film industry.

As co-owner of Hanover Films, Murray acted as executive producer on RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER (2007) – co-starring THN’s very own Coralie Rose – a film that has gone on to sell almost 800,000 DVDs to date. Once Hanover decided to disband, Black and Blue Films producer Jonathan Sothcott approached Murray with a role in Martin Kemp’s STALKER.

Billy terrorizes Charlie Bond

‘I think we were halfway through shooting when they asked if I’d like to join Black and Blue Films as a producer,’ says Murray. ‘I agreed, thinking we’d just tick over and make occasional films every 18 months like most companies. But in the two years I’ve been part of it, we’ve made something like ten films.’

Though originally an actor, Murray understands the distinctions between his two roles. It’s also obvious he still has a great affinity for the acting side of his career, and hopes that his fellow actors still recognize him as one of their own.

‘You have to wear two different hats,’ Murray tells THN, ‘and you wear them at different times. When working on a film, what you don’t want is to walk into a room and someone who might have a gripe with production go quiet because the producer has just walked as opposed to a fellow actor. But there have been no gripes with Black and Blue – it’s run very smoothly.’ And does he see himself taking that even further step into directing? ‘No’, laughs Murray, ‘the thing I look for in a script is the old cliché days off… and you don’t get any days off as a director.’

Billy Murray and Robert Englund

Though he has no plans to direct, Murray still has a creative vision for Black and Blue, and as both producer and actor, he undoubtedly has a strong influence over their films. He speaks confidently about the direction in which the growing studio is heading, and just what it is they are attempting to do differently.

‘We’re trying to keep the budget down,’ Murray says. ‘But we’re also making films that are good and have a stamp on them. And that doesn’t just mean the genre – but something that has the Black and Blue stamp on it.’

And Murray speaks of his company with total reverence – as does everybody involved – and there is an unmistakable camaraderie amongst the folks at Black and Blue Films. They are a happy team, and one that is extremely familiar with one another. ‘We’re very loyal,’ says Murray. ‘We use actors that we’ve got to know and have been good to us.’ A quick check through their back catalogue on IMDB should bring this point home: a number of well-regarded Brit actors regularly appear in their films, such as Danny Dyer, Craig Fairbrass, and not least of all, Billy Murray himself.

Billy Murray, Simon Phillips, and Jonathan Sothcott

His latest role is ‘Ferris’ in the brilliantly titled STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES, set for release later this year. Murray joins a cast of Adele Silva (DOGHOUSE), Barbara Nedeljakova (HOSTEL), and Robert Englund (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), for the horror-comedy, and as Ferris, leads a pack of murderous werewolves.

‘Ferris is in his twilight years,’ Murray tells THN, ‘but he’s werewolf through and through. He’s terrifying. Ferris meets a sticky end – but who knows? You can never kill a werewolf, you see…’

STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES has potential as a cult favourite, and with its howler of a concept, should appeal to comedy, horror, and action fans alike. Along with STALKER and Ryan Andrew’s ELFIE HOPKINS, it will build on Black and Blue Films’ already impressive CV, including DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND (2010) which bagged a number of British awards.

Billy Murray considers that in 10 years Black and Blue Films will be ‘huge’, though he acknowledges that the British film industry is a difficult environment in which to be producing. However, regardless of such difficulties, Black and Blue Films have done a sterling job in carving themselves a niche within the market so far, and at this rate, will no doubt meet Murray’s expectations.